ABUJA- Foreign affairs minister Yusuf Tuggar says Nigerians dwelling on the forged Chicago State University certificate President Bola Tinubu presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission are wasting their time. He advised that they focus on alleviating their hardships.
“The economic challenges we are facing – we shouldn’t be wasting time about whether some certificate, whether there is a ‘t’ missing or an ‘i’ hasn’t been dotted. That shouldn’t be our primary focus at the moment,” Mr Tuggar said Wednesday on Channels TV.
The foreign affairs minister added, “There is a tendency to always try to distract and detain people on such frivolous issues as opposed to facing the major issues of development. We don’t have time to waste on that.
“Nobody is wasting time about certificate qualification for somebody who has been a governor of a state, served two terms, and has been on the national stage as a politician.”
Mr Tuggar added, “You remember that (former) President Buhari had to go through the same thing, where people were actually questioning whether he went to secondary school or not. Someone who had classmates was the captain; he was a head boy.
“The foreign leaders with whom we’ve been engaging and the international organisations clearly are disinterested in wasting time on such.”
Prolonged legal tussle on Mr Tinubu’s controversial academic record reached a crescendo after CSU, in a deposition on Tuesday, revealed that it did not issue the certificate Mr Tinubu presented to Nigeria’s electoral body.
Caleb Westberg, the CSU registrar, said Mr Tinubu’s certificate, dated June 22, 1979, and tendered to INEC on June 17, 2022, was not issued by the school, and its administrators could, therefore, not be able to authenticate its source, Peoples Gazette reported.
CSU’s disposition has sparked reactions among social media users, with many calling for Mr Tinubu’s ouster in line with the Nigerian Constitution.
Section 137 (1)(j) of the Nigerian Constitution (amended in 2010) specifically stated that no one would be legitimately elected president of Nigeria if the person “has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
Citing the Nigerian Constitution, a lawyer, Abdul Mahmood, on X said, “The CSU DEPOSITIONS have finally shown that the certificate, dated June 22, 1979, BAT submitted to INEC on June 17, 2022, was NOT issued by the University.
“With Tinubu having submitted a forged certificate to INEC, a specious part of the BAT certificate conundrum will now be addressed by the Supreme Court and with specific regards to Section 137(1)(j) of the Constitution, 1999: ‘137. (1) A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of president if – (j) he has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission’.”
X user @firstladyship said, “Bola Ahmed Tinubu & Kashim Shettima must be disqualified by the Supreme Court, on the ground of certificate forgery. The 1999 Constitution is clear on what must happen. I call on fellow Nigerians to join me in calling for their disqualification.”
“Certificate forgery is still a crime in Nigeria,” another netizen, @TheFavouredWoman, said, adding that “section 463 of the Criminal Code stipulates a three-year imprisonment sentence for forgery. While Sections 362 to 364 of the Penal Code address forgery offences, with penalties reaching up to 14 years of imprisonment.”
@BOGbadams said, “If Tinubu’ is not removed by the Supreme Court, he will be forced out by the people. Nigerians are fed up with him and his entire gang.”
@JaypeeGeneral urged that “the Nigerian Supreme Court must stand up and save the nation from this embarrassment. It is time for the apex court to move away from technicalities and start delivering political judgment on merits. Nigeria cannot have a liar, drug dealer, certificate forger, etc., as her number one citizen.”
On September 6, the presidential election petitions tribunal threw out all petitions by Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party 2023 presidential candidate and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, affirming Mr Tinubu’s victory. This development saw the duo approach the Supreme Court to appeal the case.
Before tribunal judgment, Mr Atiku had in August requested court approval to subpoena Mr Tinubu’s files domiciled with CSU because he believed the documents would clarify glaring inconsistencies in Mr Tinubu’s background, including publicly available documents that suggested the CSU in the 1970s admitted a female student bearing Bola Tinubu who was born on March 29, 1954.